Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ok, So Now It’s Unconstitutional

Yesterday I briefly discussed the argument that the bailout plan proposed by the Treasury violates the Non-Delegation doctrine.  Well, today the AP is reporting that Congressional leaders have agreed on a plan that is quite different from Treasury's proposal. Among the changes are added limits on how much money the department can spend and when:

The tentative accord would give the Bush administration just a fraction of the $700 billion it had requested up front, with half the money subject to a congressional veto, congressional aides said. Under the plan, the Treasury secretary would get $250 billion immediately and could have an additional $100 billion if he certified it was needed. The last $350 billion could be blocked by a vote of Congress under the arrangement, designed to give lawmakers a stronger hand in controlling the unprecedented rescue.

So either Congressional leaders, and the many lawyers on their staffs, haven’t heard that the Supreme Court ruled that legislative vetoes are unconstitutional twenty-five years ago, or they know and just don’t care.

(Alright, we know it's the latter, as Congress has flouted Chadha any number of times since the decision was issued, but indulge my slightly ham-handed sarcasm.)

Of course, the problem with challenging the restriction (assuming the law that finally gets passed contains it) is finding a plaintiff with standing.  As Congress will almost certainly never invoke the legislative veto provision because of political realities, the matter will likely never see the inside of a federal courtroom.  Which is another thing I’m sure Congressional leaders know perfectly well.

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